The (45-15) Los Angeles Lakers start their March schedule tonight hosting the (20-39) Indiana Pacers.
The Lakers’ first win over the Nuggets this season on Sunday was huge. As usual the Nuggets played physical and did a lot of talking without saying anything of substance; Lakers on the other hand could simply tell the team from Denver to take a look at the scoreboard and the banners in the rafters.
Tonight’s game is the Lakers second game of the year against the Pacers; this will be a battle of two teams going in different directions. The Pacers are a young team that’s currently last in the Central Division Standings; scoring on average 99.5 points per game, allowing 104 points, and they’ve have won only three of their last 10 games. Tonight’s run is their first of a four-game Western Conference road trip; the Pacers are 7-23 on the road this year.
The Pacers have used several different starting lineups this season; they have recently been playing a lot of ‘small ball’ as part of a shorter lineup. The team has experienced some success by playing small as well as playing an up-tempo game. Nevertheless, they will have difficulty just matching up with the length of the Lakers.
Indiana does a good job of moving the basketball and their motion offense can be very effective, the Lakers have to communicate on defense. The Pacers will start the game with Luther Head attempting to defend Kobe Bryant, and Dahntay Jones coming off the bench will have his opportunity to foul out as well.
Kobe Bryant’s shooting touch will return, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him continue to play the role of facilitator to get his teammates on track. During the game at Conseco Fieldhouse, Kobe and Andrew Bynum combined for 56 points, and the Lakers out-rebounded the Pacers 62-42. The Lakers front line will have to be huge again tonight.
The Pacers beat the Bulls on Saturday by 10 points by being highly successful with an elbow area pick and roll action play. Indiana went to the well several times effectively running this simple play and utilizing every option until the Bulls stopped it.
Defense has been the Lakers calling card this season, but the defense that Ron Artest put on display on Carmelo Anthony in a tough physical game answered any lingering questions about how he is fitting in on the year’s Lakers team.
The Lakers are a rhythm team starting to get into a nice rhythm. The Purple and Gold need to come out of the locker room aggressive, play with a high energy level, take care of the ball, control the glass, and outwork this team.
Tonight’s game should be another solid team effort with at least five Lakers scoring in double figures. Lamar Odom has really stepped up his game and has gone back to being a difference maker on the boards.
It is time for the Lakers to start a winning streak and start separating themselves from the pack. I want to see this team play with passion on every possession.
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Indiana: FS Indiana (Quinn Buckner & Chris Denari)
- Los Angeles: ESPN 710 AM (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Indiana: 1070 The Fan (Mark Boyle & Bobby Leonard)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion fracture of index finger, Elbow & Back)
- Ron Artest (Plantar Fasciitis in both feet)
- Sasha Vujacic (Strained Right Hamstring) Out
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, back) Out
- PF Jeff Foster (Sore Lower Back) Out
- PF Tyler Hansbrough (Inner Ear Infection) Out
- C Solomon Jones (Suspended by the team)